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Family roots keep people grounded

It’s relatively rare these days to encounter people who have spent 20 or more years on the same job. The same can be said of people who have resided at the same location for that long. It seems to me that in my parents’ day, most of their friends stayed put in the same place for most of their lives. When I grew up and moved away from home, for years and years, I remember that hardly anything seemed to change between my return visits.

Now that neighborhoods, communities and individual circumstances seem to change overnight, I’ve come to value continuity as a rare commodity. It took me a long time to realize how important this constancy was to my sense of security. When you come from a large, close family where joys and sorrows are equally shared, it’s easy to feel lost in a world of plastic cubicles and casual acquaintances. I still have a difficult time understanding the lifestyles of people who surround themselves with electronic gadgets and are determined to isolate themselves from friends and family. While I certainly enjoy the benefits of time spent alone, there are other times when I appreciate the camaraderie of other individuals. I’m sure that people who lived in earlier generations would have a hard time accepting that support groups composed of strangers have taken over the roles of advisers and counselors once staffed by relatives.

Discrimination to be focus of public forums

A series of town hall meetings organized by First Ward City Councilwoman Almeta Crayton will aim to both listen to and address complaints of discrimination in Columbia.

Crayton hopes to get people from outside the community who can help make changes to attend the forums. She said she would work this month to find the right people to hear the complaints and collect evidence of mistreatment and discrimination in the workplace and community to see if further action can be taken.

Ehlers, Tigers avoid sweep

The seniors on the Missouri baseball team avoided a shameful career mark with a win Sunday against Kansas State.

Missouri’s 12-0 win at Taylor Stadium helped the Tigers avoid their fourth straight sweep in a Big 12 Conference opening series.

Zookeeper

The decor of R. Michael Roberts’ office reflects his respect for nature and his passion for animal science and traveling, but it comes with a dose of humor as well.

A fake bearskin rug with the animated head and the face of a stuffed teddy bear welcome visitors to the room, while an inflatable caribou head mounted on the wall stares down from among book-lined shelves that reach all the way to the ceiling. Then there’s the poster of British sheep breeds juxtaposed against photographs of exotic landscapes. There’s nothing funny or exotic, however, about one of Roberts’ most recent challenges. The man who was appointed in January to become a director of the MU Life Sciences Center has spent the past several months investigating a spate of animal deaths at the National Zoological Park in Washington. As chairman of a 15-member investigative committee, Roberts is helping pinpoint the problems that led to the deaths and, in turn, helping improve the quality of care at the zoo.

Reaching students, one on one

This year, Beulah Ralph faces a recurring dilemma. She has to figure out a way to save Columbia’s 36-year-old Home School Communicators program.

“I have to move things around to keep all of my staff,” said Ralph, director of the program, which helps minority and low-income children with behavioral and academic problems.

Kerry chases Mo. votes at church

John Kerry, speaking Sunday to churchgoers on the city’s north side, rejected President Bush’s claim to be a compassionate conservative and said the administration was neglecting the less fortunate.

“Today we are told that, after 3 million lost jobs and so many lost hopes, America is now turning a corner,” the Democratic presidential hopeful said. “But those who say that, they’re not standing on the corner of Highland Street, where two 15-year-old teenagers were hit in a drive-by shooting last week.”

Mizzou student reels in dream on ESPN

Dream job. Check. New car. Check. College diploma. Not quite yet.

Before he walks across the stage at MU in May, Mike Hall landed just about everything he could have hoped to gain with his pending journalism degree. Hall earned a one-year contract as a “SportsCenter” anchor, a new Mazda 3 and a $95,000 salary Sunday, beating Aaron Levine, a Stanford University student, in the finals of ESPN’s reality series “Dream Job.”

MU tuition would rise 7.5% this summer

MU students should prepare for another increase in educational fees, commonly called tuition, starting with the summer semester.

University of Missouri system President Elson Floyd said Friday that he would propose a 7.5 percent increase in fees this week at the UM Board of Curators meeting, which begins Thursday in St. Louis. Floyd said he hopes the curators, who have the final say in system decisions, will endorse his proposal.

Morris blocks out pressures

ST. LOUIS — The audition starts anew on opening day for Matt Morris.

The St. Louis Cardinals’ ace pitcher is in the final year of his contract and facing an uncertain future with the only team he has played for. The Cardinals’ offer for an extension represented a big pay cut, reflecting doubts resulting from a tough 2003 season, so he must prove himself all over again beginning April 5 against the Brewers.

Camp hoping to join K.C. bullpen

SURPRISE, Ariz. — Shawn Camp came into the Kansas City Royals spring training as an unheralded, nonroster invitee with little chance to make the club.

Camp has pitched so well that he may break camp with a spot in the Royals’ bullpen. In eight games, Camp is 2-0 with one save and a 2.38 earned run average, while walking one and striking out nine in 11 1/3 innings.

Detail oriented

Spring is the time for new beginnings, and for many of us, washing away the winter blues means scrubbing off the icy, dirty build-up that has plagued our cars over the past three months.

Washing a car is a delicate art. What is the best way to bathe your possession? In search of the perfect car washing techniques, we talked to the experts at Gaines Car Detailing in Columbia to compile this list.

Privatizing state jobs questioned

JEFFERSON CITY — A customer-service operator in India answers the phone when Missourians have questions about the state’s food stamp program.

That’s because the state contracted with a Scottsdale, Ariz., firm, and its customer-service department in India two years ago to manage Missouri’s electronic benefit cards for food stamp and welfare programs.

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